Monday, March 13, 2017

SYRIA - Fighting ISIS

"U.S. forces in Syria to fight ISIS face chaotic map" PBS NewsHour 3/9/2017


SUMMARY:  The battle for Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State militant group in Syria, is coming.  The U.S. military is sending 400 additional troops to join 500 Special Operations troops already on the ground, along with an array of Turkish, Russian, Syrian and rebel forces.  Hari Sreenivasan speaks with Michael Gordon of The New York Times about the challenges ahead.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  The coming battle for the ISIS capital, Raqqa, in Syria is beginning to take shape; 400 additional American troops, Marines and some Army Rangers will join 500 U.S. Special Operations troops already on the ground, with an array of Turkish and rebel forces.  Russian and Syrian army troops are also there.

The top American general for Middle East operations, General Joseph Votel, was on Capitol Hill today in the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Chairman John McCain pushed him on a particular flash point:  U.S. support for Syrian Kurdish forces, whom Turkey considers terrorists.

SEN.  JOHN MCCAIN, R-Ariz.:  I think there's a possibility of an impending conflict between Turkey and the Kurds, as opposed to us all working together to try to defeat ISIS and remove them from Raqqa.  Do you see that as a scenario that we should be concerned about?

GEN.  JOSEPH VOTEL, Commander, U.S. Central Command:  I do, Mr.  Chairman.  And to that end, we are trying to take actions to prevent that from occurring.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  For more, I spoke with Michael Gordon, the chief military correspondent for The New York Times, who said U.S. troops will play a key role in the upcoming battle.

MICHAEL GORDON, The New York Times:  If you look at what we're doing in Iraq right now, and I have been there, the United States is providing artillery support, along with the French.  It's providing — firing surface-to-surface rockets into Western Mosul.  It's providing air support.  And it's providing advisers.

And this is what has enabled the Iraqi forces to move forward in what is a very difficult fight.  Well, something very similar is needed in Syria in we want the Syrian fighters to go into a town that's defended by 3,000 to 4,000 ISIS militants.

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